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Ministry uses rankings to cull eight UK law courses


Law degrees from eight universities in England will no longer be recognised for admission to the Singapore bar, according to an announcement by the Singapore Ministry of Law last week, in a move seen by some as protecting graduates from Singapore’s own universities in an over-supplied market.

International rankings were used to decide which ones to cut.

On the recommendation of the Singapore Institute of Legal Education, Singapore’s Ministry of Law said on 24 February that the universities of Exeter, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Southampton and the School of Oriental and African Studies, or SOAS, University of London will be dropped from the list of 19 recognised universities, starting from the 2016-17 intake.

It will leave just 11 British universities on the list of overseas institutions recognised for admission to the Singapore bar.

There would be no change to the ten Australian, four American, two Canadian and two New Zealand universities on the list.

A joint degree run by New York University and the National University of Singapore awarding a joint master of laws degree, which attracted students from some 20 countries, was scrapped last year, just seven years after it was started.

The review follows the recommendations of a special committee on the supply of lawyers, which in 2013 noted the rising numbers of Singaporeans going to law schools overseas and then returning to practise in Singapore.

The aim of the review was to ensure “quality control”, the committee had said.

It proposed that the list of UK law schools be “reviewed and updated to better reflect the current rankings of UK law schools”, revealing that it had used international university rankings lists to cull universities in a bid to manage the supply of legal professionals despite a stated aspiration to becoming a hub for international legal services in Asia.

Higher ranked universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, King’s College London, the London School of Economics, University College London and a number of others, continue to be listed by the Ministry.

The committee said it had used law course rankings published in British newspapers including The Times, The Guardian and The Independent. However students noted big swings from year to year between the different rankings lists.


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